Alice Dryden (huskyteer) wrote,
Alice Dryden

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There's only nine Red Arrows

Actually I think there are ten, in case of accidents. But whatever. Airshow season is upon us, and I spent the day at Biggin Hill.

Lots of significant anniversaries this year: 60 years since the Dambusters raid, 50 since the end of the Korean war and 40 years of the Biggin Hill show. And the big one: 100 years of powered flight.

This meant lots of rare and exotic sights, including a 2/3 scale replica of the Wright Flyer (taxiing only; the pilot tried taking off once and it was just too terrifying), an original 1909 Bleriot (well, Swedish-made contemporary copy) and an F-86 Sabre, the USAF's first supersonic jet fighter.

All the old favourites were out in force too: the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the Utterly Butterly wing walkers (I preferred it when they were the Crunchie Flying Circus and pretty girls walked up and down the crowdline dispensing choccy bars, but I can't deny they've got a lot more daring in recent years), and what air display would be complete without the Red Arrows?

If I might be terribly jingoistic for a second, I truly think there is no better national air display team than the Red Arrows. They fly so tightly, in such innovative formations (several new manoeuvres this year, including one in which two of the Hawks fly upside-down directly above two others, with perfect horizontal symmetry).

Everything goes so smoothly it seems totally effortless, yet when we on the ground are allowed to listen in to what's happening in the cockpits we can hear the constant, urgent commands and affirmations that keep it all together.

That said, I wouldn't at all mind seeing the Blue Angels for purposes of comparison...

Usually airshows choose the Reds as their closing act, but at Biggin they were placed in the middle of the programme and the day ended on a rather solemn note. After Sally B, the UK's only flying Flying Fortress, displayed flanked by two fighters, a solitary Spitfire was left circling in the blue Kent sky. An orchestral version of the Last Post was played and we were asked to remember all those who had lost their lives in the hundred years of aviation since the Wright Brothers' first flight - in air warfare, in experimental aircraft, in space shuttles and even at airshows.

So let's.
Tags: airshow

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